STL (Standard Tessellation Language) is a file format that is
commonly used for 3D printing. It is a simple, ASCII-based format
that describes the surface of a 3D object in terms of a set of
An STL file is made up of a collection of triangular facets that
define the surface of a 3D model. Each facet is represented by a
list of three 3D coordinates (x, y, z) that define the vertices of
the triangle, as well as a normal vector that points outwards from
the surface of the object. The file format also includes a header
that gives information about the object, such as its name or the
units used to define the coordinates.
STL files can be created using a variety of 3D modeling software,
such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or Blender. Once the file is created,
it can be imported into a software specifically made for 3D
printing(build preparation software/slicing software) or 3D printing
related operations, like slicing the object into layers, optimizing
for the 3D printer, etc.
One thing to be careful about when working with STL files is that
the file format does not include information about color, texture,
or other visual properties of the object. Additionally, because the
object is represented as a set of flat triangles, it is not well
suited for tasks that require smooth curved surfaces.While STL files
are simple and efficient, they are not always perfect and may
contain errors or inconsistencies that can cause problems during the
Reasons why repairing an STL file is necessary:
To ensure support addition and slicing, repair is necessary.
Non-manifold edges : Non-manifold edges are edges that
are shared by more than two faces. These edges can cause problems
when 3D printing, as the printer or export software may not know how
to handle them.
Holes : Holes can be caused by missing or incorrectly
connected triangles and may cause problems when 3D printing or
exporting the model.
Flipped normals : Flipped normals are faces that are
facing the wrong direction. These faces result in negative volumes
of triangles. During 3D printing, a flipped normal can cause
printing of the inside of the object which will likely result in an
Self-intersecting Shells : Self-intersecting triangles
are triangles that overlap each other. These triangles can cause
problems when 3D printing or exporting the model.
Repairing methods :
Many 3D softwares provide options on whether repairing of a file is
to be performed by the user or the processes are to be run by the
software based on its repairing algorithms.
Manual Repair : It involves manually identifying and
fixing the problematic faces of the mesh using a build preparation
software. This can be a time-consuming and error-prone process, but
it allows for fine control over the repair and can be suitable for
small or simple meshes.
Automatic Repair :
It involves using specialized software tools to automatically detect
and fix errors in the mesh. These tools can be standalone
applications or plugins for 3D modeling software, and they typically
use algorithms to identify and repair holes, overlaps, and other
issues in the mesh. Automated repair can be faster and more reliable
than manual repair, but it may not always produce the desired
results. After repairing is done it is a good practice to compare
the repaired file with the original file for any pending defects or
missing parts .
Software Tools :
Mesh repairing can be done using 3D modelling softwares like
blender, meshlab, meshmixer and a host of free softwares. However,
the repairs provided by these softwares are not up to industry
This is where 3D build preparation softwares play a crucial role. MIRApro
is one such 3D build preparation software with an in-built robust
automatic repair algorithm that can fix complex problems arising in
an STL. It is also equipped with features like mesh edit, automatic
support generation ,advanced packing and slicing which makes it a
complete 3D printing software package.
>is another FREE build preparation software, developed by MIRA3D,
that has basic repair and other manual build preparation features.
Repairing STL files before 3D printing can help ensure that the STL
file is printable and further operations such as supporting, packing
and slicing can be performed smoothly.